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Publication numberUS6442603 B1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 09/718,170
Publication dateAug 27, 2002
Filing dateNov 21, 2000
Priority dateOct 13, 1998
Fee statusPaid
Publication number09718170, 718170, US 6442603 B1, US 6442603B1, US-B1-6442603, US6442603 B1, US6442603B1
InventorsMichael S. Borella
Original Assignee3Com Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Methods for ordered delivery of electronic content
US 6442603 B1
Abstract
Methods for ordered delivery of electronic content from a computer network such as the Internet or an intranet. Network latencies and the type of electronic content such as text, graphical images, animation, voice, video and other electronic content interact to influence user perception of the quality of information provided. As network latency increases and becomes more variable, users typically become less satisfied. The method dynamically adjusts the amount of electronic content presented to user based on determined network latency by using ordered delivery of electronic content. The method may improve user perception of requested original electronic content by dynamically sending in a predetermined order different types of original electronic content (e.g., text, graphics, tables, etc.) based on a determined network latency. Improved user perception of original electronic content may help attract and retain, students, customers, contributors, etc. to an organization's electronic content site on a computer network (e.g., a home page on the Internet or an intranet).
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Claims(26)
I claim:
1. A method for dynamically providing ordered deliver of electronic content over a computer network, comprising the following steps:
receiving a request for original electronic content on a second network device from a first network device via a first network, wherein a plurality of types of electronic content in the original electronic content includes one or more delivery priority tags; and
determining whether a network latency on the first network between the first network device and the second network device exceeds a pre-determined latency value, and if so,
sending to the first network device with a first protocol a first type of electronic content from the original electronic content based on a preferred order of delivery using the one or more delivery priority tags.
2. A computer readable medium having stored therein instructions for causing a central processing unit to execute the method of claim 1.
3. The method of claim I further comprising:
sending a second type of original content before sending any of the first type of electronic content.
4. The method of claim 3 wherein the first type of electronic content includes electronic text and the second type of original content includes graphical images, animation or video.
5. The method of claim 1 further comprising:
sending a second type of original content after sending a first type of electronic content used for navigating in the original electronic content.
6. The method of claim 5 wherein the first type of electronic content includes electronic text and the second type of original content includes graphical images, animation or video.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein a preferred order of delivery includes sending a first type of original electronic content used for navigating in the original electronic content before any other type of original electronic content.
8. The method of claim 7 wherein the first type of original electronic content used for navigating includes graphical images used for navigation in the original electronic content.
9. The method of claim 8 wherein the graphical images used for navigation include a graphical user interface or an image map used for navigation in the original electronic content.
10. The method of claim 1 wherein the sending step includes selecting a delivery priority tag with a highest priority for a first type of original electronic content used for navigating in the original electronic content.
11. The method of claim 1 wherein the first protocol is Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
12. The method of claim 1 wherein the first network is the Internet, an intranet, local area network, or a wireless network.
13. The method of claim 1 wherein the first network device includes a wireless network device, personal digital assistant, Internet appliance or personal computer.
14. The method of claim 1 wherein the second network device includes a web server, proxy server or edge server.
15. A method for dynamically providing ordered deliver of electronic tables over a computer network, comprising the following steps:
receiving a request for original electronic content on a second network device from a first network device via a first network, wherein the original electronic content includes an original electronic table;
determining whether a network latency on the first network between the first network device and the second network device exceeds a pre-determined latency value, and if so,
splitting the original electronic table into N-number of smaller tables;
assigning each of the N-number of smaller tables a delivery priority tag; and
sending to the first network device with a first protocol the N-number of smaller tables based on a preferred order of delivery using the delivery priority tags.
16. A computer readable medium having stored therein instructions for causing a central processing unit to execute the method of claim 15.
17. The method of claim 15 wherein the first protocol is Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
18. The method of claim 15 wherein the first network is the Internet, an intranet, local area network, or a wireless network.
19. The method of claim 15 wherein the first network device includes a wireless network device, personal digital assistant, Internet appliance or personal computer.
20. The method of claim 15 wherein the second network device includes a web server, proxy server or edge server.
21. The method of claim 15 wherein the electronic table includes a Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), or Extensible Markup Language (XML) table or a Wireless Markup Language (WML) card.
22. The method of claim 15 wherein the step of splitting the electronic table into N-number of smaller tables includes splitting the electronic table into N-number of smaller tables of approximately equal size.
23. The method of claim 15 wherein the step of splitting the electronic table into N-number of smaller tables includes splitting the electronic table into N-number of smaller tables of other than equal size.
24. The method of claim 15 wherein the splitting step includes splitting the original electronic table into N-number of smaller table data groups using the original electronic table data, wherein the N-number of table data groups are displayed in a same basic orientation as in the original electronic table, but are displayed in a non-tabular format.
25. The method of claim 15 wherein the assigning step includes assigning the N-number of smaller tables delivery priority tags based on a location in the original electronic table.
26. The method of claim 15 wherein the assigning step includes assigning the N-number of smaller tables delivery priority tags based a pre-determined table delivery order different from a location in the original electronic table.
Description
CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a Continuation-In-Part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/170,437, filed on Oct. 13, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,182,125, that issued on Jan. 30, 2001.

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to computer networks. More specifically, it relates to methods for ordered delivery of electronic content via a computer network.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Electronic content is obtained from a variety of computer networks including the Internet, intranets, and other computer networks. The Internet is a world-wide network of interconnected computers. The World-Wide-Web is an information system on the Internet designed for electronic content interchange. Electronic content on the World-Wide-Web is typically stored in files that include text, hypertext, references to graphics, animation, audio, video and other electronic data.

Network transfer latencies and electronic content types influence user perception of the quality of information provided by a computer network. Since response to the delivery of electronic content from computer networks like the Internet or an intranet is variable, user perception of the quality of information also varies. In one study, user perception of the quality of electronic content including text and graphics decreased as network response time increased. However, if the same electronic content is provided including only text and no graphics, user perception of the quality of the electronic content increased with respect to network response time. For more information see “The Effects of Internet Latency on User Perception of Information Content”, by M. S. Borella, A. Sears and J. A. Jacko, IEEE Global Internet'97, pp. 1932-1936, November, 1997.

It appears than when network latencies are large, users typically blame graphical information in the electronic content for delays in obtaining desired information. If requested electronic content has only text, users typically acknowledge that the content provider has done all that could be done to provide the electronic content in a timely manner. However, when network latencies are small, users typically expect the electronic content with text and graphics to contain a greater quality of information.

User perception of electronic content is important to many organizations, especially to those that use computer networks to provide information. For example, user perception of information may be important to a university to attract students, to a business to attract customers, to a charity to attract donations, etc. In many situations, the first and only impression that a potential client or customer receives is based on electronic content retrieved from an organization's computer network or site on the Internet.

The are several problems associated with providing electronic content to a wide range of users from a computer network. A user may connect to a computer network with a relatively slow dial-up connection via a modem (e.g., 56,000 bits-per-second), or over a higher-speed network connection (e.g., a 1.5 Mega-bit-per-second) in a university or corporation. The type of electronic content provided may be adjusted based on a connection speed. However, it is difficult to adjust the type of electronic content based on network latency. Network latency conditions change dynamically, and even a fast connection may have a large network latency at a given time. In addition, a provider of electronic content cannot predict with reasonable certainty what a network latency will be at a given time.

Another problem is that a content provider cannot determine an order electronic content will be delivered during network congestion on a network. It is often desirable to prioritize the delivery of selected electronic content so that “important” electronic content, such as content for navigation or explanation purposes be delivered before less important electronic content.

Another problem is that electronic table data from electronic content is not displayed until all table data from a table is downloaded. This causes a problem if a network session suffers from network congestion during the download of table data, since a user may be forced to look at a blank screen where table data will eventually appear for a long period of time.

Providing electronic content for users with varying network latencies may lead to user dissatisfaction and poor user perception of the electronic content. Thus, it is desirable to provide electronic content from computer network in a predictable manner to ensure improved user perception regardless of network latency.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with preferred embodiments of the present invention, some of the problems associated with user perception of electronic content provided by computer networks are overcome. Methods for ordered delivery of electronic content are provided. One aspect of the present invention includes sending selected types of electronic content (e.g., text, graphical images, tables, etc.) to a user over a computer network based on a preferred order of delivery using one or more delivery priority tags.

The present invention may improve user perception of requested original electronic content by dynamically sending an amount of original electronic content based on a determined network latency and providing electronic content over a computer network using ordered delivery. Improved user perception of original electronic content may help attract and retain students, customers, contributors, etc. to an organization's electronic content site on a computer network (e.g., a home page on the Internet or an intranet).

The foregoing and other features and advantages of preferred embodiments of the present invention will be more readily apparent from the following detailed description, which proceeds with references to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred embodiments of the present invention are described with reference to the following drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary network system;

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustrating a method for dynamically providing electronic content;

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating a method for providing electronic content with adaptive transport;

FIG. 4 is a flow diagram illustrating a method for dynamically providing ordered deliver of electronic content over a computer network; and

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating a method for dynamically providing ordered deliver of electronic tables over a computer network.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Exemplary Network System

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary network system 10. The network system 10 includes a first network device 12 that requests original electronic content 14 from a second network device 16 on a first network 18. In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, the first network device 12 is a wireless network device, personal digital assistant, personal computer, Internet appliance or other electronic device with a network browser, the second network device 16 is an electronic content server (e.g., a web server). The first network 18 the Internet, an intranet, local area network (“LAN”), wireless network, or another computer network that can provide electronic content.

The original electronic content 14 includes text, hypertext, graphical data or references to graphical data images, audio, video and other content. The structure of the original electronic content 14 is typically defined by document markup languages such as Standard Generalized Markup Language (“SGML”), Hyper Text Markup Language (“HTML”), extensible Markup Language (“XML”), Virtual Reality Markup Language (“VRML”), Wireless Markup Language (“WML”) and others. Markup languages also allow references to additional content besides text including graphics, animation, audio, video and other electronic data and include markup tags.

However, the present invention is not limited to these network devices, networks, or original electronic content types shown in FIG. 1. Other network devices, networks and original electronic content types can also be used.

Network devices for preferred embodiments of the present invention include network devices that can interact with network system 10 based on standards proposed by the Data-Over-Cable-Service-Interface-Specification (“DOCSIS”) standards from the Multimedia Cable Network Systems (“MCNS”), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (“IEEE”), International Telecommunications Union-Telecommunication Standardization Sector (“ITU”), Internet Engineering Task Force (“IETF”), and/or Wireless Application Protocol (“WAP”) Forum. However, network devices based on other standards could also be used.

DOCSIS standards can be found on the World Wide Web at the Universal Resource Locator (“URL”) “www.cablemodem.com.” IEEE standards can be found at the URL “www.ieee.org.” The ITU, (formerly known as the CCITT) standards can be found at the URL “www.itu.ch.” IETF standards can be found at the URL “www.ietf.org.” The WAP standards can be found at the URL “www.wapforum.org.”

An operating environment for network devices of the present invention include a processing system with at least one high speed Central Processing Unit (“CPU”) and a memory. In accordance with the practices of persons skilled in the art of computer programming, the present invention is described below with reference to acts and symbolic representations of operations that are performed by the processing system, unless indicated otherwise. Such acts and operations are referred to as being “computer-executed” “processor-executed” or “CPU executed.”

It will be appreciated that acts and symbolically represented operations include the manipulation of electrical signals by the CPU. The electrical system represents data bits which cause a resulting transformation or reduction of the electrical signal representation, and the maintenance of data bits at memory locations in a memory system to thereby reconfigure or otherwise alter the CPU's operation, as well as other processing of signals. The memory locations where data bits are maintained are physical locations that have particular electrical, magnetic, optical, or organic properties corresponding to the data bits.

The data bits may also be maintained on a computer readable medium including magnetic disks, optical disks, organic disks and any other volatile (e.g., Random Access Memory (“RAM”)) or non-volatile (e.g., Read-Only Memory (“ROM”)) mass storage system readable by the CPU. The computer readable medium includes cooperating or interconnected computer readable medium, which exist exclusively on the processing system or be distributed among multiple interconnected processing systems that may be local or remote to the processing system.

Providing Dynamic Electronic Content to Improve User Perception

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustrating a Method 20 for dynamically providing electronic content. At Step 22, a request is received for original electronic content 14 on a second network device 16 from a first network device 12 via a first network 18. At Step 24, a network latency is determined on the first network 18 between the second network device 16 and the first network device 12. At Step 26, an amount of original electronic content to send to the first network device 12 is determined dynamically based on the determined network latency. At Step 28, the determined amount of electronic content type is sent from the second network device 16 to the first network device 12 in response to the request for original electronic content 14.

Method 20 allows an amount of electronic content to be dynamically sent to a user that is using the first network device 12 based on a determined network latency. As was discussed above, on a network connection with a faster response time (i.e., smaller network latency), users typically expect requested original electronic content be of a higher quality and contain a larger variety of content. On a network connection with a slower response time (i.e., larger network latency), users typically will accept the requested original electronic content to be of a lower quality and contain a smaller variety of content.

Method 20 helps improve user perception of requested original electronic content by dynamically sending an amount of original electronic content based on a determined network latency. Improved user perception of original electronic content may help attract and retain, students, customers, contributors, etc. to an organization's information site on a computer network (e.g., a home page on the Internet or intranet).

In one exemplary preferred embodiment of the present invention, a request for a “web page” from the World-Wide-Web on the Internet or an intranet is received on a web server from network browser on a user computer at Step 22. However, the present invention is not limited to receiving a request on web server from a network browser on a user computer other requests and network devices can also be used.

The network browser is Internet Explorer by Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Washington, Netscape Navigator, by Netscape Communications of Mountain View, Calif., and others. The web page includes original electronic content such as text, hypertext, graphical images, animation, audio, video and other electronic content.

In one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the request is a Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (“HTTP”) request. However, other requests may also be made (e.g., File Transfer Protocol (“FTP”) request, etc.) and the present invention is not limited to HTTP requests. As is known in the art, HTTP is a transfer protocol used to transfer data from an electronic content server on the World-Wide-Web. For more information on HTTP see Internet Engineering Task Force (“IETF”) Request For Comments (“RFC”) 2068, incorporated herein by reference. File Transfer Protocol is a protocol that provides a way to access files on remote systems and is defined in RFC-172, incorporated herein by reference.

At Step 24, a network latency is determined between the web server and the user computer over the Internet or the intranet. The network latency determination may occur after receipt of an “HTTP GET” or “HTTP HEAD” message. The network latency determination may also occur during a transmission response to the user computer.

In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, the network latency is determined by transmitting a small number of Internet Control Message Protocol (“ICMP”) “ping” packets to the user computer. As is known in the art, ICMP is used for network management. The main functions of ICMP include error reporting, reachability testing (e.g., “pinging”) congestion control, route-change notification, performance, subnet addressing and other maintenance. For more information on ICMP see RFC-792, incorporated herein by reference.

ICMP ping packets return with a timestamp that can be used to determine round-trip latency. Since the first ICMP ping packet may be delayed due to a Domain Name System lookup, the first ICMP packet is typically ignored in the network latency determination. ICMP does not attempt to recover from packet losses, so network latency estimates from a ping may be somewhat conservative compared to using Transmission Control Protocol (“TCP”) packets. However, ICMP ping packets provide a reasonable first-order approximation of actual network delay and congestion for a network latency determination.

As is known in the art TCP provides a connection-oriented, end-to-end reliable protocol designed to fit into a layered hierarchy of protocols, which support multi-network applications. TCP provides for reliable inter-process communication between pairs of processes in network devices attached to distinct but interconnected networks. For more information on TCP see RFC-793, incorporated herein by reference.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, network latency is determined at Step 24 by sending a small portion of the requested original electronic content 14 to the user computer. The web server records a time at which it sends a small portion of the requested original electronic content 14 such as one complete HTML page. The network browser on the user computer requests other original electronic content such as graphical images after the network browser parses Uniform Resource Locators (“URLs”) in the HTML page. The time between transmission of the one complete HTML page and reception of the request for the first original electronic content such as graphical images can be used as a round-trip network latency estimate. Using this method to determine network latency at Step 24 does not allow a network latency estimate to be determined for a first HTML page sent. Instead this method provides a network latency estimate that can be used to determine an amount of original electronic content at Step 26 to send to the user computer in the future.

In yet another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a network latency is determined at Step 24 with modifications to a socket Application Programming Interface (“API”) and TCP implementation. As is known in the art, a socket is inter-process communication facility included in many operating systems. In such an embodiment, a TCP packet's round-trip time is recorded by a socket. As TCP packets are sent, the TCP packet's round-trip times are continuously recorded by a socket API and an estimate of the mean and variance of the round-trip delays are used to determine a network latency at Step 24.

Three exemplary methods to determine a network latency at Step 24 have been discussed. However, the present invention is not limited to these three methods, and other methods could also be used to determine network latency at Step 24.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, an amount of original content to send to the user computer is dynamically determined by the web server using the network latency determined at Step 24. In one embodiment of the present invention, web server (i.e., the second network device 16) determines an amount of original electronic content to send to the user computer (i.e., the first network device 12) using pre-determined cutoff latencies. The pre-determined cutoff latencies allow different amounts (e.g., different versions) of the original electronic content to be send to user computer. The pre-determined cutoff latencies are determined based on characteristics of type of computer network 18 being used (e.g., the Internet, an intranet, or another computer network).

As an example, assume that the network browser on the user computer requests original electronic content comprising text with five graphical images. After a network latency-L is determined at Step 24, the web server determines an amount of original electronic content to send to the first network device using cutoff latencies. Table 1 illustrates exemplary cutoff latencies for a determined network latency-L. However, the times for the cutoff latencies in Table 1 are exemplary only, and the present invention is not limited to the cutoff latencies illustrated in Table 1.

TABLE 1
Cutoff Latencies for Determined Amount of Original Electronic
Network Latency-L Content Sent
L < 100 ms Text and all 5 graphical images
100 <=L <200 ms Text and 4 graphical images
200 <=L <300 ms Test and 3 graphical images
300 <=L <400 ms Text and 2 graphical images
400 <=L <500 ms Text and 1 graphical images
L >=500 ms Text only

Table 1 illustrates exemplary cutoff latencies for text and graphical images. The amount of original electronic content determined at Step 26 for other types of original electronic content such as animation, audio, video, etc. is determined in a similar manner with cutoff latencies at Step 26. However, an amount of original electronic content can also be determined using a method other than cutoff latencies.

Table 1 illustrates one exemplary original electronic content, network latency-L and one set of pre-determined cutoff latencies. However, virtually any original content, network latency-L and pre-determined cutoff latencies can be used with Method 20. Table 1 also illustrates only one encoding of five graphical images. However, many different encodings may also be used. High-resolution encodings are typically the most visually appealing but take the longest to transmit. Low-resolution encodings are typically the least visually appealing, but take less time to transmit. At Step 26, an image encoding resolution, an amount of video frames, etc., is determined based on the determined network latency and pre-determined cutoff latencies.

At Step 28, the web server sends the determined amount of electronic content to the user computer. In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, graphical images are sent using the Joint Pictures Expert Group (“JPEG”) standard. As is known in the art, JPEG is a standard with defined processes to encode or decode continuous still tone images. For more information, see “JPEG Still Image Data Compression Standard,” by William B. Pennebaker, Thompson Publishing, December 1992, ISBN 0-442-012-721, incorporated herein by reference.

Graphical images are sent at Step 28 with a progressive JPEG image compression scheme. In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, the progressive JPEG image compression scheme includes three different progressive modes. However, the present invention is not limited to a JPEG progressive scheme or three progressive modes, and other compression and progressive schemes can also be used. In addition other electronic content can also be sent with other progressive and compression schemes. For example, video can be sent with Motion Pictures Expert Group (“MPEG”) progressive and encoding schemes and the present invention is not limited to sending graphical images with a progressive scheme.

A first JPEG progressive mode is spatial resolution. The original image is stored as a pyramid of images. The top of the pyramid is a low-resolution version of the original image. The second layer is an image with twice the resolution of the top image. The next layer is an image twice the resolution of the second layer image, etc. The bottom layer of the pyramid is the same resolution size as the original image. Storing original images in this manner requires more storage space (e.g., approximately 33% more bits on the average), but allows a trade-off between available bit rate measured by network latency and spatial resolution. Thus, a low-resolution image appears first, and then an image of twice the resolution, etc. until an image with an original resolution arrives.

A second JPEG progressive mode is frequency resolution. The spatial frequencies of an image are transmitted in increasing order. For example, a Direct Component (“DC”) is sent first, and the highest Altered Component (“AC”) frequency is sent last. Thus, the image appears blurry at first and then gets clearer and clearer as time progresses.

A third JPEG progressive mode is signal-to-noise ratio. The bits of an image are transmitted in decreasing order. For example, the most significant bits of all frequencies are sent first and the least significant bits are sent last. Thus, the image starts out noisy and gets clearer and clearer as time progresses.

In image transmission schemes known in the art, each image opens its own TCP connection, and is progressively encoded independent of all other images. The images do not improve in a synchronous manner, but instead arrive and become clearer at different speeds. This often leads to user dissatisfaction and typically lowers user perception of quality of image data.

In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, all graphical images from requested electronic content are encoded in a single meta-image that is sent at Step 28. The single meta-image is transmitted progressively with one or more progressive and compression schemes. All the images in the single-meta images arrive and become clearer at the same time. This improve user satisfaction and may improve user perception of the quality of the image data.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, standard and hybrid progressive and compression schemes can be used at Step 28 to send a determined amount of electronic content. Progressive schemes may also be used with or without compression schemes.

Adaptive Transport of Electronic Content to Improve User Perception

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating a Method 30 for providing electronic content with adaptive transport. At Step 32, a request is received for original electronic content 14 on a second network device 16 from a first network device 12 via a first network 18. The original electronic content 14 includes at least a first content type and a second content type. At Step 34, a network latency is determined on the first network 18 between the second network device 16 and the first network device 12. At Step 36, amount of original electronic content 14 of the second content type to send to the first network device 12 is determined dynamically based on the determined network latency on the first network 18. At Step 38, the first content type of electronic content from the original electronic content is sent with a first protocol from the second network device 16 to the first network device 12. At Step 40, the determined amount of the second content type of electronic content from the original electronic content is sent with a second protocol from the second network device 16 to the first network device 12. The determined amount of the second type of electronic content may also be sent progressively and/or with a compression scheme as was described above for Method 20.

In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, the first network device 12 is a user computer with network browser, the second network device 14 is a web server and the first network is the Internet or an intranet. The first content type is text and the second content type is any of graphical images, animation, audio or video. The first protocol is TCP and the second protocol is User Datagram Protocol. However, the present invention is not limited to these network devices, networks, content types or protocols and other network devices, network, content types or protocols can also be used.

As an example, at Step 32, a request (e.g., an HTTP request) for original electronic content is received on the second network device 16 (e.g., a web server). The requested original electronic content includes text and at least one other electronic content type such as graphical images, animation, audio, video, etc. At Step 34, a network latency is determined as was described above for Method 20. At Step 36, amount of original electronic content 14 of the second content type to send to the first network device 12 is determined dynamically based on the determined network latency on the first network 18 between the first network device 12 and the second network device 16 as was described above for Method 20.

As is known in the art, HTTP typically uses TCP as its transport protocol. While TCP is reliable, it can result in large delays. In real-time services such as voice, the delays are too large and User Datagram Protocol (“UDP”) may be used instead of TCP. As is known in the art, UDP provides a connectionless mode of communications with datagrams in an interconnected set of computer networks. UDP provides a transaction oriented datagram protocol, where delivery and duplicate packet protection are not guaranteed. For more information on UDP see RFC-768, incorporated herein by reference.

Most requests for original electronic content are made with TCP. For example, most “web searches” are real-time requests that require a fast and reliable response. However, once the original electronic content is located, a electronic content type such as graphical images or video can be sent to a network device with UDP instead of TCP.

In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, the first type of electronic content (e.g., text) is sent to the first network device 12 with a first protocol TCP at Step 36. TCP is used to send the fist type of electronic content since data packets containing the first type of electronic content cannot be lost. Otherwise a user may not be able to determine what the requested original electronic content actually is. For example, if text is lost, a user may not be able to determine what a graphical image or video clip actually represents.

However, at Step 38, the determined amount of the second type of electronic content (e.g., graphical images) is sent to the first network device 12 with a second protocol, UDP. All of the data packets representing the second type of electronic content do not have to arrive to allow a user to have a favorable perception of the second type of content. For example, if 90% of UDP data packets for a graphical image successfully arrive on the first network device 12, a user will typically still be able to view the graphical image and will typically have a favorable perception of the graphical data. In some scenarios, a user may not even be able to perceive a difference between electronic content for which UDP packets have been lost and the original electronic content.

In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, an entity (e.g., image, video frame, etc.) for the second content type is encoded separately in UDP data packets such that a UDP data packet is independent of any other UDP data packet. This improves the speed of delivery of the second content type.

If an individual UDP data packet gets lost or is not delivered, the entity for the second content type is still viewable by a user and will typically provide a favorable perception of the second content type to a user. Losing a large number of UDP packets may causing gaps or blurring of the second content type and lead to a lower user perception of the original electronic content in certain situations. The gaps or blurring may be corrected by requesting the original electronic data again (e.g., with a “refresh” command on a network browser). However, use of Method 30 with UDP as a second protocol to send the second type of electronic content has been shown experimentally to still provide improved user perception of the quality of the second type of electronic content even if occasional gaps or blurring occurs.

In one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, Method 30 is used to transmit electronic content with a large amount of HTML markup text. The HTML markup text is transmitted with TCP and display text is transmitted with UDP. UDP is also used to transmit graphical images, video, and other electronic content besides text. In such a scenario, the HTML markup text is annotated with placeholders for the display text and transmitted with TCP. The display text is placed into UDP packets in a logical fashion (e.g., sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph) and transmitted using UDP. UDP is also used to transmit graphical images, video, and other electronic content besides text. Although some display text may be lost overall user perception of the electronic content remains high with such an embodiment.

Ordered Delivery Based on Network Latency

If it is determined that network latency exceeds a pre-determined latency value, ordered delivery of electronic content can be used. Ordered delivery allows a content provider to determine an order electronic content will be delivered during network congestion on a network.

FIG. 4 is a flow diagram illustrating a Method 42 for dynamically providing ordered deliver of electronic content over a computer network. At Step 44, a request is received for original electronic content on a second network device from a first network device via a first network. One or more types of electronic content in the original electronic content include one or more delivery priority tags. At Step 46, at test is conducted to determine whether a network latency on the first network between the first network device and the second network device exceeds a pre-determined latency value. If the network latency exceeds a pre-determined latency value, at Step 48, a first type of electronic content from the original electronic content is sent based on a preferred order of delivery using one or more delivery priority tags using a first protocol.

Method 42 is illustrated with a specific exemplary embodiment of the present invention. However, the present invention is not limited to this specific exemplary embodiment and other or equivalent embodiments can also be used with Method 42.

In such an embodiment of the present invention, the first network device 12 includes a wireless network device, personal digital assistant, personal computer, Internet appliance or other electronic device with a network browser, the second network device 16 is a web server, proxy server, or other network or edge server, and the first network 18 is the Internet or an intranet, local area network, or a wireless network. However, the present invention is not limited to such components, and more, fewer or equivalent components can also be used.

At Step 44, an HTTP request for original electronic content 14 written in HTML, XML, WML, etc. is received on a second network device 16 from a first network device 12 via a first network 18. Electronic text, graphical images, video, audio, animation, in the original electronic content 14 include one or more delivery priority tags (See Table 2). In one embodiment of the present invention, the one or more delivery priority tags are supplied by an electronic content provider. In another embodiment of the present invention, the one or more delivery priority tags are supplied dynamically on the second network device 16 after the original electronic content is requested in case of network congestion when the electronic content is sent to the first network device.

At Step 46, a test is conducted to determine whether a network latency on the first network 18 between the first network device 12 and the second network device 16 exceeds a pre-determined latency value (e.g., latency values from the left hand column of Table 1). If the network latency exceeds a pre-determined latency value, at Step 48, a first type of electronic contest from the original electronic content 14 is sent using UDP or TCP based on a preferred order of delivery using one or more delivery priority tags.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the first content type of electronic content includes any of a graphical user interface (“GUI”), image map, other graphical images, animation, video, etc. A second type of electronic content includes electronic text. However, the present invention is not limited to such an embodiment and other types of electronic content can also be used.

Table 2 illustrates exemplary delivery priority tags. However, the present invention is not limited to the exemplary delivery priority tags and more, fewer or equivalent delivery priority tags can also be used.

TABLE 2
Delivery Priority Tag Value Description
100 GUI, image map other graphical images,
animation, video, etc. used for navigation
in the original electronic content.
99 Other graphical images, animation, video,
etc.
98 Electronic Text
97 Highest priority sub-table
96 Highest priority-1 sub-able
95 Highest priority-2 sub-table
. . . . . .

In another embodiment of the present invention, Method 42 further comprises sending a second type of original content before sending any of the first type of electronic content. In such an embodiment, electronic text may be sent before a first type of electronic content, such as a GUI, image map, other graphical images, animation, video, etc. used for navigating in the original electronic content.

In another embodiment of the present invention, Method 42 includes sending a second type of original content after sending a first type of electronic content used for navigating in the original electronic content. In such an embodiment, electronic text is sent after GUI, image map, other graphical images, animation, video, etc. used for navigating in the original electronic content.

In another embodiment of the present invention, Step 48 includes selecting a delivery priority tag with a highest priority for a first type of original electronic content used for navigating in the original electronic content. In such an embodiment, a delivery priority tag with a value of 100 (Table 2) is selected to send a first type of original electronic content used for navigating in the original electronic content such as a GUI, image map, etc. Virtually any priority and delivery ordering can be used by adjusting the delivery priority tags based on a network administrator or content provider preferences.

Ordered Delivery of Electronic Tables Based on Network Latency

In current transmission schemes known in the art, electronic table data is not displayed until all table data from a table is downloaded. This causes a problem if a network session suffers from network congestion during the download of table data, since a user may be forced to look at a blank screen where table data will eventually appear for a long period of time.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating a Method 50 for dynamically providing ordered deliver of electronic tables over a computer network. 15. At Step 52, a request for original electronic content is received on a second network device from a first network device via a first network, wherein the original electronic content includes an original electronic table. At Step 54, a test is conducted to determine whether a network latency on the first network between the first network device and the second network device exceeds a pre-determined latency value. If network latency exceeds a pre-determined latency value, at Step 56 the original electronic table is split into N-number of smaller tables. At Step 58, the N-number of smaller tables is assigned a delivery priority tag. At Step 60, the N-number of smaller tables are sent to the first network device with a first protocol based on a preferred order of delivery using the delivery priority tags.

Method 50 is illustrated with a specific exemplary embodiment of the present invention. However, the present invention is not limited to this specific exemplary embodiment and other or equivalent embodiments can also be used with Method 50.

In such an embodiment of the present invention, the first network device 12 includes a wireless network device, personal digital assistant, personal computer, Internet appliance or other electronic device with a network browser, the second network device 16 is a web server, proxy server, or other network or edge server, and the first network 18 is the Internet or an intranet, local area network, or a wireless network. However, the present invention is not limited to such components, and more, fewer or equivalent components can also be used.

At Step 52, an HTTP request for original electronic content 14 written in HTML, XML, WML, etc. is received on second network device 16 from a first network device via a first network 18, wherein the original electronic content 14 includes an electronic table. As is known in the art, mark-up languages such as HTML, XML, etc. include mark-up tags to designate electronic tables. For example, in HTML, information in an electronic table is designated with the HTML mark-up tags <TABLE>. . . </TABLE>. WML information in an electronic table is designated with WML mark-up tags <CARD>. . . </CARD>. For simplicity, Method 50 is illustrated with HTML tables. However, the present invention is not limited to HTML tables, and virtually any type of electronic table can be used with Method 50.

At Step 54, a test is conducted to determine whether a network latency on the first network 18 between the first network device 12 and the second network device 16 exceeds a pre-determined latency value (e.g., latency values from the left-hand column of Table 1).

If network latency exceeds a pre-determined latency value, at Step 56 the original HTML table is split into N-number of smaller HTML tables. In one embodiment of the present invention, the N-number of smaller HTML tables is split in N-number of smaller HTML tables of approximately equal size. In another embodiment of the present invention, the N-number of smaller HTML tables is split in smaller tables of a variety of non-equal sizes.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the N-number of smaller HTML tables are actual HTML tables including HTML <TABLE>. . . </TABLE>mark-up tags. In another embodiment of the present invention, the N-number of smaller HTML tables includes only table data from the original HTML table. The table data is displayed in a non-tabular format, but in a same basic table orientation so that a user can interpret the table data as necessary.

At Step 58, the N-number of smaller HTML tables is assigned a delivery priority tag (e.g., from Table 2). In one embodiment of the present invention, the N-number of smaller HTML tables are prioritized based on a pre-determined priority and assigned delivery priority tags. The pre-determined priority is different from a location in the original HTML table. Such an embodiment may be used to present critical table data or current event table data first, even though it may exist in a location other than at beginning of the original electronic data.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the N-number of smaller HTML tables are assigned delivery priority tags based on a location in the original HTML table. For example, a first smaller HTML table including data from a first section of the original electronic HTML table is assigned a delivery priority tag with a highest priority. A second smaller HTML table including data from a second section of the original HTML table is assigned a delivery priority tag with a next highest priority, and so on. However, the present invention is not limited to these embodiments and virtually any type of delivery order can be designated using delivery priority tags.

At Step 60, the N-number of smaller HTML tables are sent with UDP or TCP to the first network device 12 based on a preferred order of delivery using the delivery priority tags.

The methods and system described herein may improve user perception and satisfaction for viewing electronic content when ordered delivery is used to provide the electronic content. The ordered delivery can be used for graphical, non-graphical and tabular electronic content.

It should be understood that the programs, processes, methods and system described herein are not related or limited to any particular type of computer or network system (hardware or software), unless indicated otherwise. Various types of general purpose or specialized computer systems may be used with or perform operations in accordance with the teachings described herein.

In view of the wide variety of embodiments to which the principles of the present invention can be applied, it should be understood that the illustrated embodiments are exemplary only, and should not be taken as limiting the scope of the present invention. For example, the Steps of the flow diagrams may be taken in sequences other than those described, and more or fewer elements may be used in the block diagrams.

The claims should not be read as limited to the described order or elements unless stated to that effect. Therefore, all embodiments that come within the scope and spirit of the following claims and equivalents thereto are claimed as the invention.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification709/218, 726/3, 726/14, 709/233, 370/428, 707/E17.121, 709/223, 709/202, 600/558, 709/219
International ClassificationG06F17/30
Cooperative ClassificationG06F17/30905
European ClassificationG06F17/30W9V
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